Destination: Seoul-mazing race (NEH Magazine)

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The first Amazing Race-style event held by one of Seoul’s expat magazines had a lot to live up to. 35 teams and over 100 racers made the Saturday a day to remember – or one they might try to forget.

The premise of the race was simple: follow the clues, conquer the tasks, and be the first to cross the finish line. It’s much in line with the TV show, although not quite as complicated as the season-long show requiring multiple countries.

Our fearless leader, giving us the first clue: head along the river and look for the rice cakes. Eat a bag of rice cakes, then look for the clue at the bottom of the bag.

Except there were no rice cakes. Kudos to the staff for realizing the front-running teams had taken more than needed, leaving none for those that walked to the first stop.

Noryangjin fish market – we spent a fair amount of time looking for the task here.

The task here was to eat some fish and samgyeopsal – nothing my stomach couldn’t handle.

Our next stop led us to Times Square in Yeongdeungpo, where Kiwi got a Korean kid to say some English words using charades as Rahul filmed. This thing was finished so quickly that this was literally the only picture I was able to get.

Our next clue was to head to the Tomato Kimbop and ask the manager for our next challenge:

Um, what? The manager had no clue what was going on. Perhaps that’s what we get for taking a taxi instead of following the clue’s directions for a bus and walking up a hill.

Ah-HA! Here we are – all it took was a bus ride, another taxi ride, and another 10 minutes of walking. The challenge here involved making gimbap (rice and veggies rolled in seaweed) and selling it to passersby. The big fail here was when the restaurant didn’t have enough RICE to handle the making of gimbap. Y’know, Korea’s main grain? This cluster-something-or-other notwithstanding, we were able to push in, get our gimbap, sell it, and make like gangbusters with the next clue out.

After clues involving a trip to Gangnam station (using one of the media poles to e-mail a picture) and a trip to the Kimchi Museum to search for the traditional kimchis of various Korean provinces, we were off to Jamsil Hangang Park:

A double challenge awaited us – something about memory and about something about getting wet. This ended up being a relay race where water balloons had to be thrown from one team member to the next – then caught by the last person, who was blindfolded. Don’t ask where the memory bit came in – we never figured it out either.

The next clue took us to Hanyang University for a pit stop. It was here where we learned two things – one, our team was in 30th place out of the 35 teams that started (and a few teams dropped out along the way), and two, it was 5pm and we were halfway through the race. It was here that we decided to drop out with class, thighs aching and feet crying out for some time away from shoes.

For a little more insight into the rest of the race, check out this account found on

As a major event put on by a small group of people, there are always challenges. The biggest one we came across was the lack of specifics – after wandering around a college campus for 1/2 hour, we found out the place we needed to be was the FRIKKIN’ FRONT GATE. Kudos again to the staff for trying to prevent another issue by offering another clue to keep people from excessively wandering around.

So yeah – no prizes here. A fun time overall, and something I’d probably do again – next time I’ll brush up on my cross-country racing beforehand.

For more information about NEH Magazine, check out

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2011
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

This post was originally published on my blog, Chris in South Korea. If you are reading this on another website and there is no linkback or credit given, you are reading an UNAUTHORIZED FEED.



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